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A Guide To The Often-Missed Horn Head In Donegal (Walk + Loop Drive)

A Guide To The Often-Missed Horn Head In Donegal (Walk + Loop Drive)

The mighty Horn Head in Donegal is a fine spot to soak up views and ocean air.

Jutting out into the North Atlantic with some seriously epic views, Horn Head is home to sweeping panoramas, dramatic cliffs and even a WW2 lookout tower!

Part of the Donegal stretch of the Wild Atlantic Way, the mighty landscape at Horn Head is well worth a visit. Below, you’ll find everything you need to know! 

Some quick need-to-knows about Horn Head in Donegal

a misty horn head

Photo by The Irish Road Trip

A visit to Horn Head near Dunfanaghy isn’t as straightforward as some of the other nearby attractions, so take 30 seconds to read the points below, first.

1. Location

You’ll find Horn Head a short spin from the town of Dunfanaghy. It’s a 20-minute drive from Falcarragh, a 35-minute drive from both Gweedore and Downings.

2. Parking

The car park at Horn Head in Donegal isn’t very big (here on Google Maps), but it’s easily found and leads straight up to the main lookout point where there’s some more parking (here on Google Maps).

3. Safety warning

The weather here can change very quickly (see our photo above) and this is a very dangerous place to be when mist rolls in if you have no navigational experience. It’s for this reason that we don’t recommend the Horn Head Walk to novice hikers.

About Horn Head

horn head donegal

Photo by Eimantas Juskevicius/shutterstock

Around 4km north of Dunfanaghy, the Horn Head peninsula resides on the western opening of Sheephaven Bay and its breath-taking quartzite cliffs rise up to a height of about 600 ft/180m on the ocean side.

Topped with bog and heather, Horn Head is also an Irish Natural Heritage Area and seabirds such as the European shag and razorbill can be seen whirling about above. 

On a clear day (which I absolutely cannot guarantee!), you’ll be treated to views of Tory Island, Inishbofin and Inishdooey to the west, the Rosguill Peninsula to the east and Malin Head to the northeast.

Things to do at Horn Head

There’s two main things to do here: the Horn Head Loop and the various walking trails, which we’ve outlined below.

If you’re planning on doing the Horn Head Walk, please do take note of the warnings above.

1. The Horn Head Drive

horn head drive

Photo via Google Maps

The Horn Head Drive (or cycle, if you’ve got the stamina!) is one of our favourite things to do in Donegal. It’s a scenic drive along some very narrow roads that’ll treat you to stunning ocean and cliff views.

Chances are you’ll be leaving from Dunfanaghy or nearby. Now, you could always whack ‘Horn Head’ into Google Maps and hope for the best, but here’s what to expect.

Head west out of town, cross the long bridge over the inlet and then head left at the fork in the road. You’ll then climb a steep hill – keep heading straight on while the hills rise around you.

There’ll soon be another junction with a cattle grid on the right, but carry straight on and after a kilometre or so you’ll come to a small car park where you can park up.

Climb the hill to the left and you’ll come to the main Horn Head lookout point, with some deadly 360-degree views of the gorgeous surrounding landscape!

2. The Horn Head Walk

horn head donegal

Photos via Shutterstock

Now, as you can see in the photo at the top of this guide, Horn Head in Donegal, and this is the case with many areas of elevation in Ireland, can get very misty.

If you arrive at Horn Head on a day like the one above, PLEASE do not attempt to head walking as you could easily get disorientated near the edge of the very high cliff.

I mentioned earlier that there’s a WW2-era lookout point (found at the top of the hill at the end of the drive) but did you know there’s an even older, Napoleonic lookout point too?

There’s a path at the east end of the car park where you can follow the trail all the way to the old Signal Tower. The trail isn’t too long, but the track can get quite wet underfoot so sensible footwear is advised.

It’s about a 1-hour walk (30 minutes to the signal station and the same back) but the dilapidated brick structure of the Signal Tower is easily recognisable, and the panoramic views are stunning. 

Places to visit near Horn Head

One of the beauties of the Horn Head Walk is that, when you’re finished, there’s plenty to see and do close by.

Below, you’ll find a handful of things to see and do a stone’s throw from Horn Head (plus places to eat!).

1. Dunfanaghy for food (10-minute drive)

restaurants in Dunfanaghy

Photos via the Rusty Oven on FB

If you fancy a post-walk feed, there’s plenty of great restaurants in Dunfanaghy nearby. Our personal favourite is the Rusty Oven, but there’s lots to choose from.

2. Beaches galore (10-minute-plus drive)

Killahoey Beach

Photos via Shutterstock

There’s several excellent beaches very close to Horn Head. Tramore Beach has a nice walk to it, Killahoey Beach is popular among surfers and Marble Hill is a mighty spot for a stroll.

3. Parks and mountains (20-minute-plus drive)

errigal mountain

Photos via Shutterstock

There’s endless walks within easy reach of Horn Head. Hike wise, you’ve Muckish and Errigal Mountain. There’s also Glenveagh National Park and Ards Forest Park.

FAQs about Horn Head near Dunfanaghy

We’ve had a lot of questions over the years asking about everything from ‘Where does the drive start?’ to ‘Where do you park?’.

In the section below, we’ve popped in the most FAQs that we’ve received. If you have a question that we haven’t tackled, ask away in the comments section below.

Where does the Horn Head Drive start?

You can start it in Dunfanaghy and then follow the narrow road past some of the finest scenery in this corner of the county.

Is the Horn Head Walk difficult?

We only recommend this trail to experienced walkers as the weather here is so changeable and some good navigational experience is required.

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